CD: The Civil War Correspondence of Judge Thomas Goldsborough Odell


Corporal Thomas Odell enlisted in the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in August 1862. In his letters to his wife and children Odell talks about his daily routine, drills, food, as well as more dramatic events, such as the hanging of two Confederate spies and the capture of two companies of the 78th by the daring raider, John Hunt Morgan. Late in June 1863, the 78th marched from Franklin Tennessee, to Murfreesboro to join General James Steedman’s division of the Army of the Cumberland. As the tension mounted, Generals Rosecrans and Bragg played out a deadly game of tug-of-war near the banks of the Chickamauga, or “River of Death.” In September 1863, the 78th made a grueling 40-mile march from Bridgeport, Alabama, to Rossville, Georgia, to join the battle of Chickamauga. They lost 44% of their men,; Odell suffered a crippling foot injury. Exposed to the degradations of Southern slavery Odell shifted his political allegiance from the Democratic principles of his father to Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party. “Since we came here I have had a better chance to ascertain the spirit and disposition of the African slave than every before, I find that they love liberty, and have as great hatred of oppression as the white man has...” The letters are as amusing as they are informative. But what makes this collection valuable is the research done on all names mentioned in the letters, commanding officers as well as soldiers, many from Adams County, Illinois. The introduction by well-known Civil War historian Brian Pohanka puts Odell’s letters into broader context.

Donald Odell Virdin

(1992), 2006, CD, Graphic Images, Adobe Acrobat, v6, PC and Mac, 150 pp.

ISBN: 9780788442377